Campaign in 28th year of urging smokers to quit for a day

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

If you are a smoker, the statistics are not in your favor.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking will cause about 30 percent of the 563,700 cancer deaths this year.

The American Cancer Society also reports that from 1995 to 1999, adult males lost an average of 13.2 years of their life and adult females lost 14.5 years. Nearly one out of five deaths is related to smoking.

Statistics like these are the reason why every November for the past 28 years, the American Cancer Society has held the Great American Smokeout.

The daylong event set for Thursday encourages smokers to quit for the day and educates people on the dangers of smoking.

"It's just to help us bring awareness that smoking causes cancer," said Kym Davis of the American Cancer Society. "I feel that smoking is a very serious health issue to address."

The American Cancer Society reaches out to schools during the smokeout in an effort to stop smoking before it starts.

The American Cancer Society sends information about smoking to schools nationwide while local chapters like the one in Cape Girardeau provide information and materials to hospitals, health departments and health educators so they can go to the schools and talk to students.

"I think it's an eye-opening experience," said Tara Kennard from the Cape Girardeau American Cancer Society. "It's important to get out there and educate in the beginning because it is so difficult to stop smoking."

As they have for the last 12 years, employees from Southeast Missouri Hospital and KEZS-K103 radio station will attend area schools throughout the week of the Great American Smokeout and talk to fifth- through eighth-graders.

"That's when kids are most likely to pick up smoking," said Debbie Leoni, wellness manager at Southeast Missouri Hospital.

For adults, Southeast Missouri Hospital is offering "quit packs" consisting of gum, suckers and straws as well as information on how to quit smoking. The packs are available at the hospital, Main Street Fitness Center in Jackson and HealthPoint Plaza. They are also providing the packs to area businesses that want them.

People wanting assistance in quitting smoking can contact the American Cancer Society at (800) ACS-2345 or visit its Web site at www.cancer.org or stop by call the Cape Girardeau office at 334-9197.

kalfisi@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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